New York Rangers, Mats Zuccarello
Photo by Bergen Record

The New York Rangers’ future is a big unknown, especially following the departure of Brassard. Rick Nash is now more important than ever.

The departure of former New York Rangers forward Derick Brassard has made this off season interesting.

Not good or bad necessarily, but interesting.

You could say that the Rangers moved a player who was arguably their best forward last season, in favor of Mika Zibanejad.

While we have already covered why this was a good move by General Manager Jeff Gorton, that isn’t to say that there aren’t a plethora of unanswered questions surrounding Zibanejad.

Will he gel with his new teammates, both on and off of the ice?

Will the former Ottawa Senator be able to perform under the bright lights of New York, which was something that Brassard thrived on?

While the statistics say that Zibanejad is a suitable replacement for Brassard, we won’t know for sure until the puck finally drops in October.

Which is exactly why the New York Rangers will need Rick Nash now, more than ever.

I know, I know.

Nash hasn’t exactly provided the star power that we all hoped he would when he arrived in New York back in 2012.

He also hasn’t demonstrated that he can consistently produce in the playoffs, even though he was on his way to doing just that this past spring.

And then there is his contract.

Is Nash worth 7.8M, especially due to the fact that he has become  somewhat injury-prone over the past couple of seasons?

I say that none of these arguments matter anymore.

When dissecting Rick Nash’s role on this Rangers team, it’s important to note that he wasn’t drawing much attention from other teams as it pertains to a trade.

Remember, Larry Brooks of the New York Post wrote that Jeff Gorton “cannot get anything even remotely resembling equal value for Rick Nash.”

Low trade value basically puts a this option on the shelf. It’s time to move on.

Rather than looking at what Nash doesn’t provide, it would benefit all of us  to look at what he does provide to this Rangers’ lineup.

Nash provides the Rangers with a solid two-way game, which is something that cannot be said for more than a few Rangers’ players.

If you are a fan of advanced statistics, then Nash’s 48% Corsi For was the ninth highest on the team for players that played 60 or more games.

His Fenwick For was 48.7%, which slots him at number 12 on the team, which basically tells us that Nash had a lot of his shots blocked last season.

And then there is the penalty kill.

When Nash was out with a bone bruise last season, the penalty kill was awful, and while the addition of Nathan Gerbe may help to improve the PK unit, Nash’s reach, speed, and high hockey IQ would be sorely missed if the Rangers ship him off this summer.

But let’s talk turkey.

Can Rick Nash match (or even come close) to the production that he demonstrated back in 2014-15?

42 goals and 27 assists. He also tallied 6 power play goals, 4 short handed goals, and 8 game-winning goals.

Courtesy of Hockeyreference.com
Courtesy of Hockeyreference.com

The question that I pose is this:

Can Nash stay healthy throughout the 2016-17 season? That, for me, is the real question.

If he can stay healthy, I believe that Nash will be a productive player this coming season.

Rather than trading him away for a few picks that probably won’t amount to much, the Rangers would be much better off if they keep Nash.

They need him now, more than ever.

NEXT: Oscar Lindberg’s Injury Comments Are Troubling

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